Kafr Abdou is the little area of Alexandria we live in. It encompasses the British School, the British Consulate, parks, villas, apartments, shops and restaurants. After a little over a week this area has started to seem familiar and we know our routes around town pretty well. Between our own experience and what we've heard from other ex-pats, here are 5 things we've learned about Kafr Abdou:
1. The area has fairly recently exploded with restaurants. One of Richard's colleagues told me that few years ago there were only three restaurants and now it seems like there is one on every corner. So far almost everyone gives their location in relation to a restaurant. Our playdate last night was beside Olé (a Spanish restaurant), we are above Bamboo (Indonesian) and the headmaster is near Bruxies (cafe and burgers). There are also plenty of shops selling chocolate, ice cream and sweets. Unfortunately I have yet to find an Egyptian restaurant but the International food has been scrumptious and affordable.
2. It's a small tight-knit area and everybody knows everybody. Apparently we would have been noticed straight away for three reasons; being new, being white and having a small child. Knowing this has actually made me feel more comfortable. I'm already feeling like part of the community. The bread guy even let me owe him three pounds when I didn't have enough change to get Oscar cookies as well as a loaf of bread. He put the cookies back in my shopping bag and said something in Arabic which another customer translated as "for the boy."
3. They loooove children here (and all over Alex). Our second day here I saw a lady ruffling Oscar's hair in the supermarket and soon discovered it's not unusual. When we were setting up our bank account the procedure was temporarily suspended so the customer service lady could engage in conversation with Oscar. This kind of thing happens all the time and Oscar eats up the attention. Plus you can take kids everywhere at all times of day or night, very different from Whitehorse where we have been kicked out of several potential lunch spots for having a child with us.
4. It's safe. It's really nothing like the media portrays it, at least in Kafr Abdou. Based on my research I was ready to walk around in a head scarf and sunglasses with my head down to avoid harassment but it's really not necessary. In fact, kids can often be seen playing outside by themselves, something becoming more rare in Canada. Being a white woman I do get a lot of stares but I dress very conservatively here and so far nothing has tingled the spidey senses. We did get a bit worried once when we heard some loud, harsh-sounding Arabic shouting coming from speakers outside our apartment. I apprehensively rushed out to take a look, imagining ominous black flags and machine guns. Turns out it was a guy riding a donkey pulling a cart of watermelons with a microphone and sound system peddling his wares.
5. The people are friendly... and helpful. Today was the first day I went to the open-air market without Richard and I had a much easier time than I anticipated. Egyptians jumped to my rescue several times translating and letting me know how to get a better deal. I can say "Bikam da?" in Arabic which means "How much is it?" but when I'm answered Arabic I am quite lost. There has always been someone to help out, either a merchant or a customer. I've had Egyptians greet me on the street with "Good Morning" or "Welcome" and seem pleased when I understand them and answer in English (although I am working on my Arabic.)